Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

2013 NHL Draft: The Newark Shake

At the end of the Top 10 in the First Round of the 2013 NHL Draft, it all got shuffled.

The Avalanche sent Joe Sakic and Partick Roy out on the floor to pick the not-surprising offensive power rookie, Nathan McKinnon. Sakic is a classy guy, and I was disappointed by the NJ fans booing Sakic thanking Lou L for hosting. Boo you!

Surprise in the NO.2 pick, as Aleksander Barkov is selected by the Florida Panthers. That was a surprise, but Florida feels they need to beef up a line with a big Center.

Tampa Bay shook it up picking Joanathan Drouin, as Steve Yzerman likes the kid. Interesting pick as TB bought out Vincent LeCavelier, and indicating Drouin may see ice time next season.

While Seth Jones waited patiently, the Nashville Predators were making their plan and pressing the jersey for this defensive pick of the draft. At NO. 4, a defender is good, but are the D-men losing respect? Don’t forget how important the defenders can be when your offense sucks. Shea Weber and Seth Jones means Nashville has seen the light.

The Carolina Hurricanes at NO. 5 pick slot, did not trade up or down, but selected Elas Lindholm. A Swede who will go to train before joiing the team. He will play in Sweden next season.

In NO. 6, the Calgary Flames need to ignite their team and their quest for the Cup. So, as it goes, the Flames pick Sean Monahan. Expected pick who can overcome adversity, which really means that he played on bad teams before. Go Sean!

Edmonton has had the first picks for the past few seasons, and the fact that they are picking the NO.7 shows that top draft picks do make a difference. Darnell Nurse gets to go play with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins! A defenseman is exactly what the Oilers need. Darnell, you won the Lottery too.

Buffalo has had its better days.  With the NO. 8 pick there have not been many trades or dealings.  Many speculated the Sabres would make some type of deal or just pick a big player and defender…and they did in  Rasmus Ristolainen.  He’s a hard hitter with a hard shot and a great name.

And just as NJ Devils were about to make their NO. 9 pick, they trade it to Vancouver for Cory Schneider! Vancouver get the pick. Bo Horvat from the London Knights has been compared to Avs player Ryan O’Reilly.

And the final pick in the Top 10, goes to the Dallas StarsValeri Nichuskin is a strong addition to the Stars who already have Jamie Benn as a weapon.  The question is whether he will be on the ice next season.

That’s it for me. Follow more hockey info and in-depth article on the draft picks at The Hockey Writers.

Advertisements

Let the playoffs begin…

Congratulations to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who won the Frozen Four Saturday. It’s the first national championship in men’s hockey for the Bulldogs beating Michigan in overtime, 3-2.

Despite Michigan’s loss, Michiganders still have hope as the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs as the third seed in the West. Let’s look at the playoff pairings in the Western Conference:

#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Chicago
The Blackhawks eked in from a Dallas loss and will face the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy. Goaltending in Vancouver will be difficult to diffuse as Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider took home the Jennings Trophy for goaltending tandem. Beyond that, the Hawks have their work cut out with Daniel Sedin securing the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer with 104 pts.  The Canucks have an opportunity to win big in the first-round edging closer to the Cup. Chicago has tough talent but has not been as steady through injuries and malaise. The Hawks could make it tough for the Canucks, but Chicago has lost their Mojo. Canucks should wrap up the series, 4-2.

#2 San Jose vs. #7 Los Angeles-
One of the best matchups in the playoffs. A must watch, especially for California viewers. Three teams from the Golden State have made it in illustrating the shift in power from the East to the West. The Sharks are at it again and seem more relaxed as they enter yet another playoff fun. The Kings are a tough crew with some awesome talent who are fun to watch. San Jose players who have upped their game include Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture who have given the Sharks some needed energy. The Sharks look poised this year. The Kings could be a spoiler, but still have some maturing to do. And without Anze Kopitar, the rest of the gang will surely fire back. Sharks could surprise the Kings with a sweep. The question is can Kings goalie Quick maintain his namesake in the series?

#3 Detroit vs. #6 Phoenix-
So many Coyotes fans are from Detroit. The Yotes have something to prove and could be a nasty pest for the Wings. Phoenix fans are pumped for the playoffs. Wings fans are confident, but without Zetterberg in the first game fans are concerned. Depth is key here- the Coyotes have played very well this year, while Detroit has had their ups and downs. Wings will take the series but Phoenix will fight and make it tight. Goaltending is a factor. Bryzgalov and Howard must play the best games of their lives to move on and both are capable. Tight race but Wings move on.

#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Nashville-
It’s the Nashville curse- they get in and lose. Anaheim has struggled but have dynamic players in Cory Perry, the winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer with his 50 goals. The Ducks are fighters and are scrappy. With home-field advantage, the Ducks could easily wipe out the Preds. Perry, Bobby Ryan, Cam Fowler and Ryan Getzlaf will score. Energetic play will keep this series one to watch. Too close to call, but Anaheim has more oomph to take control.

The Eastern Conference is looking extremely tough:

#1 Washington vs. #8 New York Rangers
A must watch for anyone. Ovechkin meets Lundqvist is a slice of heaven for any hockey fan. Washington has not done well in past Stanley Cup runs, but then New York wiped out last year against the Caps despite leading the series. This series will go down to the wire.

#2 Philadelphia vs. #7 Buffalo-
Philly rocked last year and could be heading to the Cup finals if they can hold on. Buffalo has fought to stay in the hunt. Goaltender Ryan Miller has to be top-notch to get past the Flyers. Flyers’ goaltending has been a revolving door. Great playoff history between these two teams will give this series some bite. The Flyers can win if the goaltending is stable and can beat Miller.

#3 Boston vs. #6 Montreal-
Can’t even begin to describe the fierceness of this rivalry, plus the animosity with the Chara-Pacioretty incident. A healing game on some level, but anyone’s game at this point. Price and Thomas are excellent in net, so grab a beer and pop some popcorn for this double-feature. This one will go to the end. Fighting is likely.

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Tampa Bay-
Without Crosby and Malkin, the Pens have really shown the depth of their bench and that usually wins games. Staal, Talbot and Kennedy will continue the play that has kept them in the hunt. Tampa Bay lacks some playoff experience; however, with Martin St. Louis and Steve Yzerman as elder statesmen the Lightning will make the series tight. Yet, another good exhibition of players and punch and will come down to the wire if the Pens can keep it tight. Tampa Bay can do it if they shut down the Pens momentum.  Fleury is experienced and Roloson pulls out the stops.

Great games ahead and refreshing teams that have made it into the rotation make this year’s Stanley Cup run a must see.  Complete disappointment in Denver though. The Colorado Avalanche tanked this year after a good start. Recently, I saw Kevin Porter and Kyle Quincey on the day of Adam Foote’s retirement and they looked like someone had died. The loss of their captain in a losing year is a bummer. Better luck next year to all the teams who are heading to the golf course.

Who has the right moves? A summer guide to fantasy hockey

The NHL Entry Draft and July 1 dealing deadlines have mixed the 30 NHL teams into goulash. Yes, it’s a good thing, yet trying to make sense of your fantasy roster next year, could prove enlightening as much research needs to be done. There are many building blocks required to match the force of a Stanley Cup contending teams, but like kids in a candy store agents, players, and managers are gobbling up their sweet deals for next season’s ice time.

I’m already preparing my teams and ranking players for my leagues, and poking around rosters. Should be out in the sun, but the hot weather has me thinking of ice and snow to cool down.

Chicago isn’t the same team that stepped onto the ice last year. Taking out some top players is asking your top guns to perform with more gusto, as Toews, Keith, Sharp and company should be playing hard. If you can get them, get them.

The Western Conference exhibited some dominance last year, and they will continue. The Eastern Conference needs to bulk up and find some identities. These teams are on my radar:

Eastern Conference:

New Jersey Devils- Hedberg backing Brodeur sounds good to me. I hope Hedberg sees some ice time, because Marty needs to rest. The Devils should be able to kick it into the Cup finals with Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and a whole host of good options for your team. When in doubt, go toward the Devils.

Buffalo Sabres– Tyler Myers and Ryan Miller are top fantasy draft choices. Myers was rookie of the year winning the Calder Memorial Trophy, and Miller taking home the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. But is this enough? Don’t draft too deep into the Sabres bench because everyone scored equally.

Atlanta Thrashers– are in serious building efforts as the landlords realize more effort must be made in the quality of their brick and mortar. Taking Andrew Ladd and Dustin Bufyglien from the Blackhawks was just plain smart. Ladd has quietly worked his way into scoring zones over the past two seasons. He’s the guy who creeps into fantasy teams due to injured wingers, and for the last push of the season. Dustin B. needs no introduction; he is a slayer who can deliver with his bulk and intellect because hockey is both mental and physical.

Tampa Bay Lightning- Steve Yzerman is all I can say. He’s golden. Piling on the players to pay the piper, the new GM knows his hockey both on the ice and off under the leadership of the Illitch family, who created a dynasty both adored and despised. That’s some power. Nittymaki is a good fantasy goalie option, and Martin St. Louis goes early. Steven Stamkos has won me over his second season matching Sidney Crosby is goals.

Western Conference:

Colorado Avalanche
– youth movement continues to catch all. The Avalanche must continue to play at the top of their game. When they sat in the top three in the West, critics said the team couldn’t keep the momentum and they didn’t. Striving to make the playoffs kept fans on their toes and gives Colorado a head start for next season.  Avalanche players that are must-haves include Matt Duchene, Craig Anderson, Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart. Other players are excelling quickly and depth in the Avs means depth for your rotation needs.

St. Louis Blues
– they looked so rough last year, but great the year before. Now, with a few bells and whistles in goal gaining Jaroslav Halak’s contract for a steal, the Blues continued their rally by securing forward Alex Steen on the roster. Steen is a breakout player who could boost the Blues. Alex Steen will be on my fantasy roster. The guy is solid. Halak is tops too.

Edmonton Oilers
– not because they have a chance at the Cup, but I want to see Tyler Hall play in the NHL. I want to see if the Oilers can do what the Islanders are still holding onto. Take a look at videos of Hall placing the puck in net: Ovechkin like but more humble. Draft Hall.

Vancouver Canucks
– has taken over the San Jose Sharks pick for me next year. While I’m curious to see how the Sharks unfold with the new Nittymaki agenda, I turn my head toward the border and offer up Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and the Sedins to the hockey gods. Luongo is a stretch, yet could remold into his former self this season.

Phoenix Coyotes
– Coach of the year,Dave Tippett, is tipping the team in the right direction. And my Petr Prucha posts get a lot of hits on my blog. Wolski, Yandle, no shortage of talent. Shane Doan, super nice guy, disappointed a bit last season. Goaltending is not a problem with Bryzgalov.

Other notables getting a nod:
Los Angeles Kings– love the Johnson-Doughty thing they got going on there. Bordering on the Cinderella team last season, the young Kings have some great abundance to flaunt with all the California hockey hype during the NHL Entry Draft. Good options for fantasy streaks.

Nashville Predators
– adding Matthew Lombardi is a good move in not only points, but he’s a bright spot for you face-off category ranking among the top five usually.  You just have to love this line-up and wonder what is happening out there? Well, they are good but have met opponents that are better. Look at Shea Weber for certain. A lot of great options on this team not to be overlooked by your management staff.

Hockey for the Holidays

As you share in your festivities and blessings, think of the great hockey games you can watch with relatives this season.  Nearing mid-season, the race is heating up.  Take some time for yourself between holiday shopping and holiday parties to watch some of these great games.

In the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres battle it out on Saturday the 19th to overtake first place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference. Can goalie Ryan Miler keep Sidney Crosby out of the net?  With the Penguins’ list of injuries, the Buffalo Sabres have the depth to take the Pens apart.  But they’ll have to get by the New Jersey Devils first.

The mall is too crowded on Sunday, and you’d rather be home for the battle of the Great Lakes with Detroit coming to Chicago.  Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will be taking it to ailing Red Wings.  Now with Henrik Zetterberg out for two weeks, veterans Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk will need to play hard against the young Hawks.  Bundle up and watch out for the wind-chill factor.

On the 21st an inter-divisional rival match-up between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild should be interesting.  Colorado has not done as well as they’d like against the Wild, so look for the depth of Colorado’s bench to heat up the ice and plow the Wild.

If you have your shopping done, then cozy in on the 22nd when Matt Duchene, Wojtek Wolski, and Ryan O’Reilly welcome the spunky Anaheim Ducks to Colorado.

The last day of hockey before the two-day holiday break presents the best of the East and West match-up on December23rd. Buffalo Sabres stealth goaltender Ryan Miler goes up against Alex Ovechkin and the punchy party of players in Washington. Then put your game face on when the Chicago Blackhawks come to the spastic crowds in Detroit for the second meeting for the holidays.  Do you really have to go to that holiday party?]

Happy Holidays and be safe.  No slashing, boarding or roughing!